Lost Soldiers #4 brings Ales Kot’s mini-series to its climax for this week’s release courtesy of Image Comics. The artwork by Luca Casalanguida displays a surreal grim-and-gritty situation that colors by Heather Marie Lawrence Moore make more terrifying. Aditya Bidikar further demonstrates this by showing how distant or smaller noises make more impact than direct actions.
Lost Soldiers #4: Looping The Signs
Ales Kot precedes the issue with a quote from Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World. The novel details surviving in a violent world between US and Mexico borders while trying to bring back loved ones. The main conflict turns out to be how detached people become when they invest in that world. This translates well when it comes to the protagonist in Lost Soldiers #4. As the last issue demonstrates, he is so driven to hunt down his former squadmate he lost everything to that obsession.
That same former squadmate also can’t escape the Vietnam War; like the protagonist, the war has become his life, to the point of joining a drug cartel. But unlike the protagonist, the former squadmate is burned out by the battles and is genuinely tired of living. The only pleasure he gets from it now is the impressions he made on the protagonist. This brings out a genuine tragedy on both of these characters, which shows them shaped by war, but the war left them behind. Instead of affection, these characters could only communicate through conflict.
Art of War
Luca Casalanguida gives Lost Soldiers #4 a bleak atmosphere. Most of the scenes featuring the protagonist are in places full of shadow. This gives the protagonist a sense of being part of the shadows. Sometimes that’s taken to literal strides like when he appears behind his former squadmate like his own shadow. It demonstrates the dark place the protagonist is where he constantly chases a past event. Everything grinds to a halt when the page following this becomes pitch black, almost like everyone, including the reader, has been cut off from the protagonist.
The coloring by Heather Moore makes this illusionary feeling all the more apparent. The lighter colors of the setting look warm despite child gangsters holding rifles. But when that area is sprayed with red, the reader backs up as the splash page accompanying this blackens the area. Moore shows that the protagonist is not exactly comfortable in the shadows in a surreal flashback within Lost Soldiers #4. Within his hideaway, the protagonist experiences splotchy artwork in green and reds to reflect his Vietnam experiences. Often this gives way to hallucinations of him being back in Vietnam, almost like he’s in a neverending loop.
The Deadly Silence
Aditya Bidikar gives Lost Soldiers #4 a unique voice through a surprising lack of it. At the start, a sniper rifle and the reloading actions make noise. However, the noise can only be heard from a notable distance. People in the surrounding area hear it, but to anyone close is only a deafening silence. This repeats later where there are no wordmarks displaying gunfire or explosions. The protagonist and his former squadmate are used to it, but after the reader has been exposed to it all, silence remains. When the characters finally clash, readers have to read the white captions to know what happened. Because by this point, they’ve lost all connection to the protagonist.
Lost Soldiers #4 Readies One Last Tour
Before this mini-series closes out, readers see a protagonist from a safe distance because they’ve grown detached from the central conflict. Instead, they see two men clashing over practically nothing, and they know it. Lost Soldiers #4 isn’t even over yet, so will the protagonist finally get peace? Or will he just be stuck again for some meaning?